History of the project
Since the 1966 Grove Park Youth Club had been a vibrant youth community hub until it was closed down in 2013 due to funding cuts. When the building closed, a group of passionate, dedicated local volunteers began campaigning to save the building and in 2016 the Grove Park Youth Club Building Preservation Trust (GPYC BPT) was created.
Since then, the GPYC BPT have dedicated much of their time and effort into successfully campaigning to protect the club from demolition and acquisition by property developers. Their campaign has included community clean up days, participating in the London Festival of Architecture, lobbying the council and even appearing on both Channel 4 and BBC News. The GPYC BPT are now in talks with various potential partners, funding bodies and youth service providers to produce a sustainable business plan that will lead to a reopening in the near future.
How the relationship with Grove Park Youth Club and Building Preservation Trust came about
When the GPYC closed in 2013, The GPYC BPT was formed in 2016 to take forward the general “save grove park youth club” community cause in a more official way. They chose the vehicle of a Building Preservation Trust as the most appropriate way.
Why Wilmott Dixon Interiors decided to help this particular project and this area of Lewisham
As part of our Empowering Lives programme which is led by Willmott Dixon Interiors’ Management Trainees, we wanted to do something around the issue of rising youth crime. Since 2011 more than 30 youth centres have closed in London and it is well evidenced that the loss of youth services has a direct impact on youth violence and gang crime. We felt the project aligned with our social value offering and that it would help create a positive impact for society and the local communities in which we are involved in.
Jordan Wilding, who was the nominated trainee for this year’s programme really wanted to do something to target this issue which drew us to Grove Park Youth Club, with its high profile successful media campaign to save the building following closure by Lewisham council 4 years ago.
Another major issue and contributing factor to young people falling into violent situations is the lack of employment opportunities and readiness for employment once they reach 16. WDI reached out to local young people aged 16-25 who are NEET inviting them to attend our ‘Empowering Lives’ course. The two-week course was especially designed for Grove Park and the Lewisham area and comprised of a series of workshops aimed at getting young people ready for work, exploring various different skills including construction. At the end of the course WDI have plans to continue supporting the young people through work experience, mentoring and help getting into apprenticeships within our Supply Chain. This also enabled them to see the benefits of having a Youth Club that can offer these facilities.
What work exactly has been done / will be done?
Work on the Youth club included removal of asbestos, full rewiring of light fittings, full internal decoration, new kitchen installation, reinstatement of the parquet flooring in the main hall, upper hallway and small office space as well as new carpet in the larger office. Externally the windows were repaired and painted and space has been created for planters which the Youth Club will be using for gardening.
The refurbishment works retained the original features of the building, such as the parquet flooring, in order to make the building eligible for local listing so that it can be protected forever.
What impact the work has had / hopes to have / will have
The refurbishment works undertaken by Willmott Dixon Interiors has given new life to the building, which was previously in need for improvements in order to keep the club open and help Grove Park Youth Club deliver on their vison for the building.
This will now allow the Building Preservation Trust to push through the final stages of their 4 year campaign to re-open the building for the local community and provide variety of activities including Youth Provision and social hub by delivering quality weekend and evening activities for young people in a safe environment, Music & Multimedia hub and a youth business hub. Café facilities will also support affordable healthy eating and help young people to learn how to cook.
What future relationship will Wilmott Dixon Interiors have with the project?
Willmott Dixon Interiors hope that this is the start of a great long-term relationship with the contacts we have made at Grove Park and around Lewisham. When the Youth Club is open, we will be able to use the space to run further workshops and activities such as employability and practical skills. We also look forward to continuing to work with the local connections and partners we have made through completing the project, such as Lewisham Construction Hub and Barnardo’s.